THE Unite general secretary Len McCluskey has urged BA to step back from its ‘opportunistic fire and rehire’ plans, which will send thousands of dedicated employees to the dole queue.
McCluskey said: ‘There can be no doubt that this crisis is having a profound impact on the aviation sector …
‘Given this, we say again to Mr Walsh that there is evidently no need to embark on this drastic course of fire and rehire, ripping up the contracts of 42,000 workers, raiding the wages of staff, and sending 12,000 loyal workers to the dole queue.
‘No other employer in the aviation sector is pursuing this course of industrial vandalism. Competitor airlines are taking a responsible longer-term view, bringing their workforces with them through short-term wage cuts and pledges to return wages to pre-Covid levels at the earliest opportunity.
‘BA is fortunate. Its parent company can afford to make better choices. It has billions in the bank and even plans to expand by purchasing another airline, Air Europa, which is hardly the act of a business on its knees.
‘It has also chosen not to attack the workforces of the other airlines in its group such as Iberia and Aer Lingus. We cannot therefore see its assault on the workers of BA as anything other than a deliberate and opportunistic decision to reshape the airline for the financial benefit of the boardroom …
‘Again, we urge BA and Willie Walsh to step back from this needless and destructive course of action.’
In Saturday’s Daily Telegraph of August 1st the Unite leader, and the most powerful trade union in the country, were given a good kick where it really hurts by Walsh.
He did not even mention McCluskey’s offer to negotiate ‘short term wage cuts’ and declared: ‘At the heart of this you have a trade union that has refused to accept that this is a crisis that needs to be addressed … The Unite trade union has told everybody that this is a temporary issue that can be resolved by temporary measures.’
Walsh continued: ‘There is no point in looking back at the way BA was. Because we’re never going back to that environment. It has to restructure itself to ensure that it can be viable in the future.’
Walsh is proceeding with his plan to rip up 42,000 BA workers contracts to be terminated on 31st August.
The 42,000 are invited to apply for voluntary redundancy by August 5th. Those who do not apply are to be taken as willing to take new contracts from September 1st.
These new contracts will involve a minimum 20% pay cut, a minimum of 4 weeks unpaid leave this winter, doing compulsory overtime, and then having the prospect of being ‘outsourced’ to a separate privateer sometime in the future, where they would again face the prospect of redundancy.
BA insists: ‘If you are unsuccessful and are not offered an alternative role, you will remain at risk of redundancy … ‘If no alternatives are available, you will be dismissed as redundant and will receive a redundancy payment comprising of statutory redundancy pay and any other payment(s) due, including contractual notice pay.
‘In this instance, we expect colleagues would leave British Airways on 31st August 2020 (subject to operational requirements).’
These are the terms and conditions worthy of a ‘third world’ labour camp in some minor military police dictatorship, and must be rejected by the Unite trade union at once. They would make the conditions of the hungry 30s look like a holiday camp!
In fact, Unite must take the lead and call action rejecting these terms and conditions. The union must take the position that if this is what UK capitalism has to offer the working class, then it is UK capitalism that must go into the dustbin!
Unite must take the lead and demand that all trade unions support the BA workers. It must call national strike action and an occupation of all BA facilities and demand that the TUC call a general strike to bring down the Johnson government and bring in a workers’ government.
Only a workers’ government that will nationalise the banks and the major industries to bring in a planned socialist economy, can provide the way forward for the working class.